Ask the Readers: What's the Worst Job You've Ever Had?

By Ashley Jacobs on 19 January 2016 77 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to M, Nathalie, and Michelle for winning this week's contest!

You've likely worked a variety of jobs, and some jobs may not be what you're interested in. That doesn't tend to be a huge issue (there are bills to pay, after all!) — unless there's something about the job that makes it really wrong for you. Personality clashes with the boss, mind-numbingly boring tasks, awful hours...these are just a few things that can really make you hate your job.

What's the worst job you've ever had? What made it so terrible? If it was a previous job, how did you get out of the situation? If it is a current job, what do you plan to do to improve the situation?

Tell us about the worst job you have ever had and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

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  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will be randomly selected to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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  • Contest ends Monday, January 25th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. Winners will be announced after January 25th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
     
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
     
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Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

Have to be the pizza parlor in high school, a chain restaurant. I was fired by being omitted from the schedule, nothing official. We won't even mention the telemarketing job. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing there. It lasted two weeks.

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Gina

The worst job I ever had was working in an office with a bipolar, racist boss. The work itself was ok but he made it intolerable so I found a new job.

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Mami2jcn

I've had some unpleasant jobs, but I think the worst was when I was 14 and I worked the summer in a factory. It was against the law, but my mother didn't want me to stay home doing nothing, so she had me packing items in her company's factory. While she sat in the air conditioned office, I was sweating in the non-air conditioned factory, working alongside a bunch of men.

Oh, I just remembered another bad job! When I was a senior in high school I worked as a secretary in the hospital. They had me float around different floors. My favorite was working in the ICU unit because it was....quiet. The worst was working in the detox unit. The patients there were all court-ordered drug offenders and they were pretty scary. They were allowed to walk around the unit and smoke. Several of them tried to ask me out and I was pretty terrified. One day I was leaving work at the same time one of the drug addicts was being released and he chased me out. I had to hide from him until he left.

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Julie Wood

The worst job I ever had was washing dishes at Perkins. I was sitting in the restaurant eating breakfast when my waitress said that the dishwasher quit, and I was looking for a job at the time, and I said that I would help the next day. Well, I never got a break from washing dishes and I must of washed hundreds of plates and was so tired when I got home that I slept for 14 hours straight! I quit the next day. Awful!

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Renee

Waitressing. Customers can be so incredibly rude.

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Matilda

I worked at a local utility company and had a very demeaning boss. I always thought of myself as a strong, independent woman, but this boss did her best to beat me down. Several employees left the company because of her. I ended up leaving too. Life is too short!

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babelfish81

I was a nurse at a jail. One of the inmates tried to fake a seizure, and when I shook her to try to snap her out of it (per protocol), she tried to charge me with assault. I put my two-week notice in shortly thereafter.

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Bekki

I worked at an Italian Cafe for a week, without officially getting hired, then got fired, if that's possible. I did meet a rock start there that week though. So not all bad, lol.

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Candice C.

I think the worst job I ever had was as a seasonal employee for AEO at the mall while I was an undergrad in college. I had signed on for some extra cash (I had another part-time retail job as well) at the holidays - bad choice! I don't think I made it past two weeks. It was long hours of boring work folding t-shirts and cleaning out fitting rooms, an irregular schedule (I was simply "on call" for most days of the week), mean customers, and awful management. I like to think of those few years in retail as my "rite of passage" and am so glad I got my degrees and was able to secure meaningful employment in my field of study!

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Chris

Worst job was right out of college working for a woman who ran a personnel office which was staffed by her relatives....and me. She screamed at us daily and you never knew when she would start screaming. She went off at the drop of a hat. I would often go into the bathroom down the hall with an upset stomach and just sit on the toilet to get a break from her. Right before Christmas, she called me in because I sent out her Christmas cards and some came back to her not delivered/people moved/etc. I used her Rolodex, under her direction. I took my "daily screaming", then sat at my desk the rest of the morning and as lunch time approached, I put all my personal things in my purse, walked out the door and went home. I never went back. I mail her the key with a letter about how horrible her screaming was and that I couldn't take her or the environment any more. They did call me because they thought I got in a car wreck or something, when I never showed up after lunch. I told them my key was in the mail.

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IBikeNYC

Oh, do I hear you!

I can't decide if it's worse to work for actual families or places where everyone goes around grinning and saying, "We're like FAMILY here!"

Either way, the "family" is profoundly dysfunctional, and you're at the bottom of the heap either because you're the new person OR because you're not REALLY family.

NEVER AGAIN!

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kh

I was a temp during college back in late 80s. What I didn't realize was part of my duties was delivering suspicious items to unscrupulous individuals I spoke with on the phone previously as a receptionist. I only lasted a short time, needless to say and I was standing in the unemployment line.

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Linda

I was a waitress many years ago at a restaurant that I hated.

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Trish

I've been lucky enough to have a lot of good jobs! If I have to pick a worst job it would be my first job in High school scooping ice cream. It was always extremely busy and it definitely motivated me to find a better job!

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Susan Thevenard

Honestly, I've been pretty lucky with my jobs, but the worst may be when I was a manager, and had to fire people! It was nity forte.

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Elena

The worst job was being a dog sitter

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Ernest S.

I worked as a server in a college town restaurant, and I have to say it was one of the most tiring and stressful jobs. I will say that I learned a lot about the service and food industry, and definitely have more empathy for restaurant servers.

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Christie

Working at a fruit market where the boss didn't like me. She made life miserable for the months I worked there!! (They were only open a few months a year.)

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Matt

Being a cashier at a bad restuarant

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Kelli

I've had a few bad jobs but, probably the worst, was a receptionist job where my boss was a jerk and flat out told me, "Yours is a thankless job". I was paid very little, and the boss was really snotty to me and actually encouraged customers to behave the same way! When one nice customer was trying to get me to go work for her instead my boss flipped out. I was already in school and working another job, so I quit. I was really tired of being verbally abused and treated like dirt for next to no money.

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Susan P.

The worst job I ever had was as a cocktail waitress at a golf club. It only lasted a day, though!

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Anita Jenkins

I was a returning officer for a provincial election (Alberta). I had to find 75 enumerators, train them, monitor them, convince condo buildings to open their doors to these people, and be on call 24/7. The enumerators had bottles thrown at them from balconies, were sworn at, could not get people to answer the door when they were clearly at home, and got paid a pittance for each voter listed. They had to visit the residence three times if necessary. Many enumerators quit and returned their binders, so I had to start all over again and find new workers, training them individually in my home. My house was full of binders before and after the process, and I had to pack them up for shipping back to the head office. There is more, much more. Mostly bad.

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Emily

I worked at a salmon cannery scooping blood out of the spinal columns of salmon before they were cooked. It was cold and wet and you got a lot of questionable stuff in your hair and face. But it was memorable!

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Jennifer

The worst job I ever had was working for a group of lawyers. One of them always called from the courthouse and told me to find an important document in his office that he needed right away...but his office had stacks upon stacks of papers on the desk and the floor. There was another lawyer who always made me go to the courthouse to file something right before it closed. I literally ran the two blocks to the courthouse several times to do it, and I don't even want to think about all the times I got blisters or cut my skin open in my very inappropriate for running dress shoes. Ouch!

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Elle

I helped out part time in an office back in college for extra money and would basically endlessly make copies, file and pick up food orders. It was tedious and boring.

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Michelle D.

Honestly I can't say that I've ever had a terrible job. Each one was a learning opportunity and perfect for what I needed at the time.

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C Hui

My worst job was I made bullets at a factory. It was bad because I didn't have a car and I had to walk 2 hours there and 2 hours back late at night.

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Eric

I had an IT job at an engineering company where they started turning me into an engineer, while wanting me to be internal IT... I was stretched too thin, yet they couldn't wrap their minds around that concept...

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Emily S.

I babysat some spoiled kids in high school. They were rotten!

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Jeff

current job... boss plays favorites, micromanages yet doesn't answer questions when asked, doesn't follow corporate policies, changes team policies without notice, to name just a few. But the actual work is good.

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CF

My worst job was filing papers for a finance company.

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Betty

In high school, I had an after school job as a phone solicitor, trying to get people to buy aluminum siding. Of course it was awful, and no one bought. Turns out the place was raided after hours one day- it was really a front for some illegal activity. My friend and I tried so hard to sell the siding too. Lol.

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Natalie

The worst job I had was working at a Subway in a dirty Walmart.

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Raina

My worst job was waitressing. It was so stressful! I had two panic attacks (that I thought at the time were heart attacks) while working there. I quit after a few months - no job is worth that stress.

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Guest

The worst job I had was cleaning roof gutters.

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Kat

I worked as a cashier at McDonald's

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AN G

My very first job was popcorn girl in movie theater. I was always covered in lard and smelled like a Orville. Also, my face was always covered with oil, more then Nascar. Not good for a 15 year old going through hormone changes.

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Tara

Working odd hours as a "virtual assistant" for a business consultant. The jerk had me edit and rewrite large portions of his book, then refused to credit me for any of it - all while working on his schedule of 6pm - 1am...hours not agreed upon in his contract. Eventually he claimed he overpaid me and threatened to sue until I paid back some of my own salary.

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Jessica

My worst job was working at a daycare with 2.5 year-olds. I loved working with the kids, but one day, a parents brought in a child who had a high fever. After that, I had the worst flu of my life and couldn't go to work. I quit the week after.

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Donna Sako

The worst job was working for a hamburger franchise. I was a fountain girl and was paid $1.45 a hour which was top wages since the waitresses made .75 a hour plus tips. But I was required to do cleaning, make fountain items, man the take out room, and finally was forced to do curb waitressing during a thunderstorm since no one else was around to do it. After three months I was fired because I could not do the curb job. During the storm I fell and spilled all the items on the tray. But the good news is two weeks later I got another job with more money for less hours and it was a phone marketing job. That job got me hired by the phone company where I had raised myself to management and retired. Sometimes you can make a bad thing into a good thing.

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Kat

My worst job would have to have been my first job, but that's only because my boss wasn't supportive of my dreams and didn't take the time to mentor me. Ever since that experience, I have chosen my career path based on being part of a positive, supporting environment!

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Susan Smith

The worst job I had was cleaning houses.

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Louly

Oh man it's probably between telemarketing and doing promotional modeling for a condom company.

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Guest

My worst job wasn't really bad at all....I worked at a supermarket just prior and during Thanksgiving. Those turkeys were heavy...Still, I was grateful to have a job at that time.

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Diana

Retail in women s clothing store. Really not a bad job but what I definitely did not like were the holidays that were brutal with the super long hours with not enough staff, cranky customers because duh the holidays, people trying to steal and being so overwhelmed with customers and not enough staff that at times there was nothing we could really do about it and like seriously why do people take a dump in the fitting rooms? why? :(

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Lynda

thank goodness i havn't had a worse job yet

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Hsien

dishwasher at a pizza parlor

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Guest

I've liked most of the jobs I had but one job was just terrible. The fact that my job as a grocery clerk (bagger) was bad had more to do with the boss and general management policies than anything else. Supervisors would just boss us around and the scheduling was so inconsistent and often ignored the schedules we had set for school and other jobs. They also required that I pay union dues after 3 months of working there, but as a grocery clerk, you wouldn't get any of the benefits the other employees got. Since it was a second job I took to pay off credit cards faster, I left right before my 3 months came up and never looked back.

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Evie B.

The worst was washing dishes at a diner.

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M

My summer stint as a receptionist for a dentist whose mom was the office manager was the worst job I have ever had. The dentist who hired and trained me was very kind. His mother was another story. She was obsessed with clorox bleach. Would "disinfect" the whole office every day. The smell was beyond overpowering. Mrs. Dental/Mental was also convinced every attractive woman was after her precious son. I tried to do a good job answering the phone, scheduling the appointments, and making sure she didn't bleach the money (Both the dentist and I caught her many times staring at the safe talking about about all the dangerous germs sitting on dollar bills while holding her ubiquitous clorox spray bottle). And of course, I also had to make sure never to look at my boss directly in the face in his Mommy's presence for fear that she would go full frontal paranoid on me. I quit after 3 months even though I needed the money very badly. My boss was nice, gave me 3 days wages and said, "I know, my mom is difficult." I didn't say anything. I was very young.

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IBikeNYC

For more than two years, I was "Sales Service Coordinator" at a company that imported sunglasses and readers.

There were three brothers and two of their sons; their elderly mother; and their brother-in-law.

I got EXCORIATED on the regular for failing to send stock THAT WE DIDN'T HAVE.

Employees were FORBIDDEN to call it a "warehouse;" it was instead to be referred to as a "Distribution Center."

REALLY, guys? I think your clients would like to get their orders filled no matter WHAT you call it!

One time, while I was out at lunch, the car ahead of me on the gas line BACKED UP ONTO MY HOOD.

He had a big ol' dually, and I had a Firebird; I'm pretty sure he just didn't see me.

I called the police and then the job.

Nobody got hurt, and both vehicles were still driveable, and I got back to work maybe an hour or so late.

MY IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR MADE ME GO OUTSIDE WITH HER AND SHOW HER MY DAMAGED CAR.

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Laura J

Oh I have to say that I have been very lucky and loved all my jobs! I cant even pick one that was the worst...as I enjoyed them all!

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Suz_Glo

I love kids and babysat all through high school and college. While in graduate school I had every morning free so I took a job at a small day care center. Big difference! I did not enjoy the parents who brought their babies in as early as possible (6am), in their pajamas, unfed, dirty diapers and all. Some of these people did have to go directly to work but others just wanted 1-2 hours to themselves before needing to be at work at 8-9am.

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Miss kim

My worst job was a temp job after college. It was minimum wage and I was constantly getting yelled at!

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Lynn

Working fast food & having to clean out the fryers!

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Ana L.

My worst job was in high school working at a pizza shop. I developed bad acne and my face was greasy all the time.

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Rebecca Ross

Cleaning clogged toilets in a factory during my senior year in high school.

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Kim

Retail... Long hours, rude customers, and competitive colleagues (we worked on commission).

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Julie Lundstrom

My worst job was working in the deli department when I was a teenager. I ended up with pink eye.

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jtwink

My worst job was bookkeeper for a crooked car dealer, in a small town where there weren't other jobs to apply for. He cheated his salesmen, he cheated his customers, and even his accountant warned me to be careful not to get caught in the middle when it all came home to roost. My books kept coming up short and I would stay late to balance them, couldn't figure out where the money was going. Finally he fired me for 'bad performance' and I learned from another worker that he had been keeping two sets of books, one that he jerry-rigged to get me fired, and another set with the lady he hired to replace me. It was a great source of satisfaction to me that he lost his dealer license not long after I left - and I was grateful not to be involved when the business collapsed. Whew!

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Maura

Lunch monitor in a elementary school.

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Sharon Smith

I worked in a toy factory. My job was to pick up an item, make sure it was correct, and attach something to it, and that was the job. I had a table in front of me and was in a huge noisy room. I lasted 90 min, ran out the door and called my previous boss and asked for my job back. He said yes and I and I was back at work that afternoon.

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leslie

I'm a substitute teacher and this past summer I needed extra money so I got a retail job at a very high end purse store (eye roll here). I'm not dowdy or a bad dresser; I can glam with the best of them, but to see the consumerism at an all time high and on steroids was painful all summer long. I mean the credit card debt going on there- some women admitted to have 100 purses they never used in their closets. I felt pain, in my heart, for them. Anyway, that was my worst job and never doing retail again.

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Erin

My worst job was as a dog sitter. One time one of the dogs peed all over my house and then ran away. It took me hours to find him! Never again!

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flippintubaterp

Oh my. Which one?!? First job out of college was a desk job in the marketing department for an expensive nationwide grocery store. I ended up being the person who was on the floor doing food demos for 4-6 hours at a time. First day on the job my boss told me I wasn't her top choice. That turned out to be the nicest mean thing she said to me in the two months I was working there.

I worked at a non profit for an older guy who had no family, and worked 7 days a week from 6 to midnight, and expected similar work hours from employees and "his indentured servants" (his term for interns). He hated women, minorities, and "the gays."

A friend's fiancée needed help at work, so she hired me to help clean up their books. She and my friend ended up breaking off their engagement, and she was so angry with me by association she couldn't be in the same room with me for an entire month. She communicated with me exclusively through post it notes. Passive aggressive ones, of course. Also, she was the one who broke off the engagement. My friend was devastated.

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Brian Buchbinder

Using a 3lb hammer to pound 6" nails through asphalt roofing and into a sheet metal deck below that. In July on a several acre black roof. The job paid 2x minimum wage @ $2.50/hr. At the end of the first day they offered my 3.75 if I would return. "There isn't enough money." was my answer.

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Jessica

Third shift in a Quest Diagnostics lab, pouring pee from a container into a test tube. Definitely not my favorite job.

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SKB

I had a part time job in the reservations office of a big hotel while I was in nursing school. There was no orientation and I didn't know what i was doing and then i was fired.

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Pamela

I was a temp for a financial reporting company. The boss admitted to me that he hired young women just out of graduate school. He'd force them to work lots of extra hours and if they balked, he'd threaten to tell their boyfriends or husbands they were cheating with him.

Ugh. I felt dirty just being in the same room with him.

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Guest

Working overnights at any job is THE WORST haha. I worked overnights with adults with disabilities and it wrecked my sleep schedule.

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Donna D

About 15 years ago worked at collection agency with a bunch of druggies and folks with violent past history.

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BRB

Working at a furniture store on commission where the owner would steal all of your sales.

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Catseye

I've had several bad jobs but the worst would have to be my first full time job out of high school. I was working at an office supply store where I was supposed to type up phone orders all day long. Not bad at all. Then they fired one of the other employees and did not replace her. So I spent most of my time taking the phone orders instead of typing them up. I was criticized for not doing my original job. Well, duh!
Nearly all of my fellow employees were rude to me, would all go on break together and leave me to deal with the phones, the mail room manager would scream at me for bringing orders to him late, one of the other mail room employees would always "scan" me when I came in (but never spoke to me). I was fired after 4 months. I didn't quit because I was living with my parents and they would NOT have liked it.

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Happy Love

Telemarketing.

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Guest

Worked answering hospital telephones -- 80/100 calls an hour for $8 at time in 2008. I mean taking messages from patients to their doctors, doctor to doctor consults on admitted patients, all codes like code blue, ambulance call aheads on critical injuries, WHERE IS MY child? IS HE IN THE ER?, and call transfers to rooms.

Hospital only buys cheap computer systems -- like all information scrambled around in the computer, check out to find on-call doctors had to be memorized for hundreds of doctors, hundreds of telephone prefixes on cheat sheets....

Lovely coworkers, very energetic slaves but really scared by management who did not feel need to clean up this computer system for consistent abbreviations and information placement in life & death situation. Moved to another job in a few months....

Checked back in 2013 when family ran though the hospital, about $11 an hour and still using barely sufficient computer software....Many of the employees had kids who failed to thrive, so lots of the millennials and olders needed assistance from parent with bad job market here (scammer's delight with no unemployment if you get in trouble, lots of 4-6 month jobs sadly). Heard many stories while working there and really feel for someone having to slave at this pay-rate in life-death situation with management that doesn't mind taking chances with lives.

Seen other situations in my hometown that are very similar as wages and staffing fall, likelihood of suit for employees get too bad to deal with this.

Hospital bought bad billing computer system more recently, barely runs anything actually...Lots more layoffs.

Seeing too much stuff like this is good motivation to relocate, as it only got worse.

Guest's picture
Carmen N

A job at a pizza place; unfortunately I didn't know at that age what sexual harassment was ... but neither did the other dozen or so waitresses that quit while I worked there as he never faced charges.

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Ruby Julian

Probably the worst one was working at a small public radio station, which sounded like a cool job until I discovered it was staffed by people who were either whining slackers or certifiably crazy. The management was hostile and inept, and the hourly staff was given responsibilities far beyond their expertise and pay level just to keep the place going.

Quit when I began having anxiety attacks driving to work in the mornings. Should have done it a lot sooner.

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Michael K

Definitely temp jobs!

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Tabathia B

My 1st job at 16 at Hardees, it was the manager who made it terrible for everyone. She was so annoying and had no life and was there all the time and had her favorites

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Ashley Park

Working at a fast food restaurant.

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Thomas Murphy

The worst job I had was working at a supermarket.